Afghan peace process, an illusion?


Tariq Khalil

VERY sad firing incident on patrolling and loss of precious lives indeed is very big event in which loss is irreversible. For peace, sons of the soil have been laying their lives. Fifteen years down the line Defence Forces are still fighting to eradicate the menace of terrorism. As long as Afghanistan is settled, this menace will continue. Let there be no doubt, irrespective of the fact, US needs Pakistan and their new found love is manifest of that but PM Imran’s US visit has once for all reflected, power to be only respect honesty, transparency and the nations that are not beggars and corrupt. This has been the message of Trump during and after the one to one meeting. This is the message IK gave to US Establishment while speaking to American Pakistanis at Arena One in Washington. His agenda, peace in Pakistan/Afghanistan particularly and South Asia. Eradication of corruption and welfare of the people of Pakistan. This of course has been well taken by US Establishment. Nevertheless Indian Establishment has rebuffed Trump’s offer of mediation. As for as India’s thought process, status quo suit them in Kashmir as any settlement will trigger dominos effect in other states, that at no cost they will allow. So is the case in Afghanistan they will try to save their investment. So the spoiling incidents. The firing on Afghan border and heat up on the LoC is the part of same scheme of things. Further, India would like to divert world attention for the quite changes she wants to bring change to the status of Kashmir under special provisions in Indian Constitution. This certainly is going to be resisted
Talks with Taliban is continuing, Mr Khalilzad is already in Islamabad and had various meetings. A delegation of Taliban may also visit Islamabad to meet PM IK and have discussion with stakeholders. But the issue is very complex. There are so many interest groups in Afghanistan, vacuum if created in withdrawal of US forces that it may turn into another civil war. Besides Northern Alliance, Ashraf Ghani and Karazai groups are vying for power. And, important is they are pressing to be included in talks with Taliban, which so far Taliban has rejected. In the northwest of Afghanistan Daesh has hold in large areas, which is a source of worry for Russia and China alike. Same is Pakistan which has pointed out the dangers, to ignore the spread of Daesh. In recent past many a incidents have the footprints of Daesh. More important, is RAW supporting Daies to carry out activities in Pakistan. Thus Taliban-US agreement as reported is going to be in phases. US may be allowed limited presence in one or two bases. The major point, Taliban want Sharia Law. If so what will be position of Afghan Govt. This will be a blow to the Afghan National Army raised by American at heavy cost, the army either come under Taliban in Shariah Law or it will get disintegrated. There cannot be two forces. It has to be Taliban as they are negotiating from position of strength. My assessment is it may lead to civil war if elements are not in a broad based government. Is similar scenario we witnessed post Geneva Accord. President Zia was pressing broad based government but Junejo to have feather in cap against Zia advice went ahead to sign the agreement. Result, over three decades, Afghanistan is still burning. Situation is more complex now as stakeholders are many.
Nevertheless the window of opportunity offered to Pakistan must be availed. Once Agreement is signed Pakistan’s position will weaken. Pakistan must insist for Kashmir Resolution through US. As there will be no peace in Afghanistan if Kashmir flares up. We must also use Taliban to put Kashmir in agenda for future Pakistan support. The major spoiler is coming from India, in this complex situation when US and world attention is on Afghanistan India has inducted further 28000 troops, Emergency is declared , tourists are asked to vacate Kashmir. What for, abolish status of Kashmir in Article 35 and 370. This will immediately spark resistance and may open civil war. That is the reason 28000 additional CRP is inducted to crush any resistance. That is going to be major spoiler in Afghan peace process. A new war will emerge in the subcontinent. This is also rebuff to Mr Trump. India wants to change demographics of Kashmir before any talks with Pakistan. This, practically is killing UN resolutions, Simla Agreement. And also Liaqat Nehru pact on minorities. Pakistan in that case has to rise above moral and diplomatic support, and declare it an act of war, while avoiding war. Meanwhile, we must engage Russia and China on one side, and EU countries, on the other. War is going to be catastrophic for the region.
—The writer, a retired Brigadier, is decorated veteran of 65 & 71 wars and a defence analyst based in Lahore.

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